The dress collection is predominantly British and consists of clothes and accessories for men, women and children, mainly dating from the 18th century onwards. Many of the items have been worn, bought or made in Leeds and the surrounding Yorkshire region.
Outstanding garments include an 1881 dress by Charles Worth, worn by the daughter of a Yorkshire mill owner, and a particularly strong collection of garments dating from the 1960s by some of the best known British fashion designers: Jean Muir, Bill Gibb, Zandra Rhodes, Vivienne Westwood, Bruce Oldfield, and Philip Treacy.
A significant and unique area of the collection is the large quantity of material relating to the tailoring manufacturing industry in Leeds. The collection includes items such as tools and equipment, suits, photographic archive and promotional material. Although a number of the Leeds tailors are represented in the collection, the two Leeds’ manufacturers best represented are Burton and Hepworths.
The textile collection includes some extremely rare fragments dating back to the 15th century. The collection contains fragments and also complete items highlighting the wide variety of techniques used in the production of textiles for dress, furnishings and interiors.